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Accepting defeat is not in President Trump’s and Lavar Ball’s DNA

Credit: Jordyn Savard / The Foothill Dragon Press

Amid all of the president’s controversial tweets over the past few weeks, the unconventional banter between Donald Trump and entrepreneur LaVar Ball has been swept under the rug, and rightfully so. Although this issue is certainly not as important as the retweeting of anti-Muslim propaganda, it brought Trump back into the national spotlight in a time period where multiple women accused many high-profile people of sexual harassment. Since then, the spotlight has been fixated on the president and his Twitter rampages.

Two outspoken and egotistical men with considerable power have stepped into the metaphorical ‘ring’, as if in a WWE WrestleMania event (Side note: Both Trump and Ball are notorious for their previous appearances on WrestleMania). It is another prime example of these two individuals trying to do anything to “win” in an unwinnable situation. Somehow, it’s one of the main events on the card for the time being.

On Sunday, Nov. 19, Trump released a series of tweets regarding a statement made by one of the fathers of the group of University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) freshmen that were caught shoplifting on a trip to China.

A situation that may have flown under the radar has been thrust into the national spotlight. So how did we get here?

Three UCLA freshmen basketball players (LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley) were arrested on shoplifting charges on a trip to China with the rest of the UCLA squad. Days after the arrest, it was reported that there existed footage of the three athletes shoplifting from three different stores, including the theft of a pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses. The Bruins eventually played their season opener against Georgia Tech in Shanghai, but it was swallowed up by the controversy off the court. The three freshmen were to remain in their hotel in China until further notice from the Chinese government.

Shortly after, however, Trump intervened in the situation by negotiating with Chinese president Xi Jinping to work out a deal which would send the UCLA freshmen back to the United States. LiAngelo Ball’s father, LaVar Ball, is notorious for being outspoken. On Friday, the senior Ball raised eyebrows once again. In a statement to ESPN, LaVar Ball said “everybody wants to make it seem like [Trump] helped me out” when referring to the president’s intervention.

This could have been prevented. Actually, it should have been prevented. LiAngelo Ball and his two teammates thanked the President for his role in freeing them, but apparently the elder Ball’s remark infuriated Trump to the point of forgetting the athletes’ act of graciousness. LaVar Ball’s tendencies to evoke reactions from people are not necessarily dangerous, but they can prove to be problematic. Many believe it is a marketing strategy for his company (Big Baller Brand); others simply label it as a cry for attention.

Further developments to the feud include a CNN interview with LaVar Ball, which prompted the following response from the president:


“IT WAS ME.” These tweets are simply dripping with narcissism. The president of the United States is ensuring that EVERYONE knows that he deserves all credit for a situation that was only magnified because the son of LaVar Ball was involved. I’m led to believe that the other two freshmen, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley, would be stuck in jail in China if it weren’t for the name recognition of LiAngelo Ball. Trump is trying to appeal to the American citizens, portraying himself as the hero in a circumstance that is not as significant as he makes it seem.

In addition, this situation holds an impact on issues that are prevalent right now. The indirect impact can be best described as a diversion. Trump is offering his extended analysis and spending lots of thought on this situation- rather than the Roy Moore accusations, aiming for diplomacy with North Korea, or anything else that could potentially have a longer-term effect. Although its effect is slowly wearing off, it has bought the president quite a bit of time.

The president was gracious enough to intervene and negotiate with Xi Jinping, but four provocative tweets were enough to keep the fire burning. The best option is simple: Let it go. Let UCLA handle any disciplinary actions they will hand down to the students. Trump and LaVar Ball, however, won’t put their egos aside. I do not believe that the feud has ceased and the last words have yet to be spoken. The “wrestling match” won’t end until one of them is satisfied. Until then, the saga will continue.

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Accepting defeat is not in President Trump’s and Lavar Ball’s DNA